I must admit, I’m not a natural at learning to code. It took me about a year to complete the HTML and CSS coding courses on Codeacademy. But it helped me to get my job working in digital at a well-known London university.
When that wasn’t satisfying enough, I also enrolled in an HTML/CSS beginners’ coding course with the amazing Code First: Girls in London. I enjoyed that so much that I also completed their Ruby course, and our project group won the end-of-course competition.
Finally, I also attended a Ruby on Rails day course hosted by Rails Girls in London. And that was the end of my formal training in web development.
When someone tells me to code something as part of an everyday problem, I’d like to be able to do it. At the moment, my knowledge of coding is piecemeal, fragmented. I want to be the engineer that tinkers under the hood. I want to play with the boys.
But what did this actually mean?
It is a programming language used in the browser, so it doesn’t require communication between the front and back end of a website to work, making it a lot faster than other languages.
A variable is like a container that can be assigned different values. These are useful when you might want to use the same script over and over with different data input into your program. So you wouldn’t want to rewrite the script every time. Users might be inputting data, in which case they can be assigned to your variables. Variables can be named anything you like.
A function is a kind of mini-script that you can use to contain code you want to use over and over again. You give your function a name and write the script you want to be executed whenever this function is called. Your function is like a variable in that it can be called anything, like ‘flower’. It can contain variables, arrays and conditional statements, among many other things. Essentially, if you want to keep using the same piece of code in your script, you can wrap it inside a function.
With this in mind, I’ve been enjoying my email subscription to The History of the Web, where I get stories about milestones in the development of the internet. Since I came late to the party, I don’t have lots of knowledge people assume you know about web history and its purpose.
As you turn every corner in this journey of coding, there is more and more complexity to be unearthed. You can learn to code, but then something like Machine Learning becomes the new difficult skill that will scare mediocre programmers away.
It is true that the powers that be will keep moving the goalposts. As soon as lots of women learn to code, that will no longer be ‘enough’ to succeed in technology. We are endlessly behind in the race.
And in learning to code, I encounter endless naysayers who tell me that the language I am learning is useless or not ‘real’. Vague comments are thrown around about just getting a job as a junior developer and learning by experience (erm, I’m a professional blogger and I don’t have time) or questioning why I would even need to learn to code. The answer is that I want to. That the future is filled with technology and women need to join the party.
The road is hard and long. But we remain optimistic. We keep trying. We learn.
I made this Wake on Wakelet which is a collection of resources for learning how to code. I’ll keep adding to it.